Brexit and abortion reform among issues that could be impacted by election

If Ireland slips into an unexpected pre-Christmas election a number of key issues could be derailed.

Leo Varadkar's attention could be diverted away from crucial Brexit negotiations.

The Taoiseach, who has shown an increasingly hardline stance on the Irish border, could be caught up in polling in the run-up to the Brussels summit on Brexit on December 14 and 15.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected Mr Varadkar's demands for written commitments before trade talks begin to avoid checks on the Irish border, even if it that means Northern Ireland continues to apply EU trade rules while Britain diverges.

This has prompted Mr Varadkar to threaten to veto the start of trade talks at the summit.

But his voice may not have the same authority during the summit if he is there as a caretaker Taoiseach ahead of an election.

Questions have also arisen over the future of the controversial abortion debate.

The dissolution of the Dail would see the simultaneous dissolution of all Oireachtas Committees, including the Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which has been dealing with the contentious social issue.

An election also raises uncertainty over the abortion referendum, due to be held in 2018 to let the public decide if abortion should be legalised "in almost all cases".

The Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution

In addition, the Social Welfare Bill, which promises to increase all weekly social welfare payments by five euro from March 2018, has yet to pass the Oireachtas.

The Bill also allows for qualified child payment, which is paid for each child to parents dependent on social welfare, to go up by two euro, the first increase in this payment in eight years.

But the Bill could be knocked off course if an election is called.

Similarly, the Finance Bill, which provides for the reductions in USC, increases in the income rate standard rate bands as well as increases in the home carer tax credit and the earned income tax credit, has yet to pass through the Seanad.

The Finance Bill also provides for the increase in the excise duty on cigarettes by 50 cent, as well as the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

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